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BU students, faculty visit Prague for study, cultural experience

By : Gail Glover

Seven BU students enjoyed a rare op- portunity to study electrical engi- neering during a 10-day trip to the Czech Republic last month.

Led by Victor Skormin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, the group worked and studied with students and faculty in the Department of Cybernetics at Czech Technical University of Prague (CTUP). The BU students attended lectures and a student conference, as well as conducting joint research projects with CTUP students.

“The trip allowed our students to gain a better understanding of the Czech Republic from a cultural and political perspective as well as a technical one, and develop the taste for international cooperation necessary for a future engineer,” said Skormin.

Vladimir Marik, professor and chair of CTUP’s Department of Cybernetics, hosted Skormin and the BU students. He said that having an international component within an engineering education is important in fostering understanding and cooperation within the international student community.

“International contacts are extremely important for any university in the world, as without these contacts you cannot achieve the competitiveness in the research activities,” he said. “These are also very important for the students who are expected to live in a more and more complex and globalized world with many international interactions.”

For BU student Jason Gibbs, the trip presented an opportunity to experience the Czech style of teaching electrical engineering, as well as to learn more about Czech culture. “It was interesting to see whether they emphasized the same aspects of electrical engineering that are studied in detail at the Watson School,” he said. “I think that it is important for the Watson School to establish relationships with institutions outside of the Southern Tier. Students like me need to see that what we learn is pertinent not just locally, but also in a global economy. I’m very proud to have been given an opportunity to tell others of my studies and of the facilities and professors at the Watson School.”

The trip, funded by a $75,000 National Science Foundation grant and supplemented by the Graduate School, is the beginning of what Skormin hopes will be a long-term relationship between BU and CTUP that will include student-faculty exchanges and joint research programs. The faculty exchange will begin this fall with Michal Pechouchek, a CTUP professor, offering a graduate lecture course at BU. Skormin will return to Prague next spring to teach a six-week electrical engineering course. Research cooperation will include the development of a joint proposal to the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research related to an in-air refueling project.

Next summer, Skormin plans to return to Prague with another group of his students, chosen on the basis of academic excellence.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08